Day 17 Wednesday 18 July. Nimmu - Leh 37km

It’s just 37km to Leh. We passed huge military camps outside most of the villages between Srinagar and Leh. They look ugly with their tents and tin buildings in neat rows surrounded by barbed wire. It’s a heavy price to pay for Indian border security. Their presence impinges on every village, daily life and the character of the landscape. The road into Leh is a steep climb that never seemed to end. It was 30˚C again and we were once again feeling the strain. There was a lot of traffic and “welcome” banners all along the road. We later learnt that the Dalai lama is in town for a lecture/ talk and people have come from far and wide to be here. The traffic was awful and we had to be strong and assertive to protect our right to the road. We ended up walking some of the way just for a break. We found a lovely mid range guest house away from the centre of town for Rs 600 ($12) per double. We have a big room with a double bed, private bathroom with solar hot water and views over vegetable plots to the snow-capped mountains.

We cycled back into town and found access to the internet to check our emails then had a huge lunch. We cruised around the curio shops to browse at all the Tibetan antiques, traditional jewellery and other stuff to buy. It seemed somewhat expensive but Leh attracts a lot of tourists so it’s not unexpected. We will check postage costs before we start buying gifts. We rode around town without panniers and loved the freedom and independence. Without bikes we would have to walk or haggle for taxies. There are a lot of tourists and it reminds me a little of Kathmandu though the architecture is more appealing in Nepal.

Alan has decided he will fly home from Leh. He will have to confirm if he can change his flight departure date from Delhi and make a connecting flight from Leh.I think Aisha, his sister, has put pressure on him to return. I also have to come to grips with continuing on my own for another 2,000km. 

Alan has been unpleasantly constipated for more than 10 days. He dropped into a chemist and bought some drugs to give himself an enema . I don’t want to be around when he finally goes. I have been as regular as clockwork since my third day in Srinagar and have had no tummy problems. I know I have lost some upper body mass from the long days of exercise and no gym work. I don't need a mirror and can just see my arms and chest have shrunk.

We bought a couple of kilos of fresh apricots and took them back to our room.  I miss my family especially after emails from Keryn and the kids. Emma received high distinctions in all her subjects at uni and Jack is down the snow with Oliver. Keryn must be lonely. I have lots of things to concentrate on during the day but when I have rested my mind wanders home.